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Dehydrin variants associated with superior freezing tolerance in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)

Rémus-Borel, W., Castonguay, Y., Cloutier, J., Michaud, R., Bertrand, A., Desgagnés, R., Laberge, S. (2010). Dehydrin variants associated with superior freezing tolerance in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), 120(6), 1163-1174.


A cDNA (msaCIG) encoding a cold-inducible Y2K4 dehydrin in alfalfa (Medicagosativa spp. sativa) was shown to share extensive homology with sequences from other species and subspecies of Medicago. Differences were mainly the result of the occurrence of large indels, amino acids substitutions/deletions and sequence duplications. Using a combination of a bulk segregant analysis and RFLP hybridization, we uncovered an msaCIG polymorphism that increases in frequency in response to recurrent selection for superior freezing tolerance. Progenies from crosses between genotypes with (D+) or without (D-) the polymorphic dehydrin significantly differed in their tolerance to subfreezing temperatures. Based on the msaCIG sequence, we looked for intragenic variations that could be associated to the polymorphism detected on Southern blots. Amplifications with primers targeting the 3′ half side of msaCIG revealed fragment size variations between pools of genotypes with (+) or without (-) the polymorphism. Three major groups of amplicons of ≈370 nt (G1), 330 nt (G2), and 290 nt (G3) were distinguished. The G2 group was more intensively amplified in pools of genotypes with the polymorphic dehydrin and was associated to a superior freezing tolerance phenotype. Sequences analysis revealed that size variation in the 3′ half was attributable to the variable occurrence of large indels. Single amino acid substitutions and/or deletions caused major differences in the prediction of the secondary structure of the polypeptides. The identification of dehydrin variants associated to superior freezing tolerance paves the way to the development of functional markers and the fixation of favorable alleles in various genetic backgrounds. © Her Majesty the Queen in Rights of Canada 2009.

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